Tag: Water feature

Tropical Tabletop Water Garden

One of the things I try to convey about outdoor living spaces is that you don’t need a lot of room to create a beautiful place to relax. Even a small patio is ample in size to create an inviting retreat. This container garden is a perfect example of how you can enjoy a water fountain in the smallest of spaces.

Materials Needed for a Tabletop Water Garden

  • Shallow container without a drainage hole
  • Plants
  • Small Stone to weigh down pump
  • Pebbles to weigh down plants
  • Pieces of brick or square stone to elevate the potted plants if needed
  • Small electric pump
  • Water

Tabletop Water Garden

Directions for Making a Tabletop Water Garden

Place a small electric pump inside the bowl and weigh it down with a stone, then pull the cord over the back rim of the bowl.

Position the planted pots inside the container to conceal the electrical cord. Depending on the height of the container, you may want to put shorter pots on pieces of brick to display them at varying heights. Sprinkle pebbles on top of the containers to keep them from floating.

Fill the container with water to about 2-inches from the top of the pots. Plug in the pump and enjoy!.

Good to Know

Ideally, a container without a drain hole is best, but if you fall in love with a pot that already has a hole and really want to turn it into a fountain you can easily plug it. Just place a piece of duct tape inside the pot over the hole. On the underside of the pot fill the hole with plumber’s epoxy. Then level it out with your fingers so that it is even with the sides of the hole. When it dries, remove the duct tape on the inside of the pot.

Tabletop Water Garden

Plants Used in this Water Garden

  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) – Creeping Jenny will grow in both standing water or in the ground. It’s an excellent groundcover, so along with fountain gardens I also like using it between stepping-stones. When planted in the ground it likes well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.
  • Cardinal flower ‘Queen Victoria’ (Lobelia cardinalis) – I love the burgundy foliage of this plant. It’s a slo a good choice for areas in the garden where the soil stays moist.
  • Variegated sweet flag (Acorus gramineus)- This grass-like plant is one of my favorites for containers and in the garden. It prefers moist soil so don’t let it dry out.
  • Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) – Calla lilies are popular for their flute shaped blooms, but I love the foliage too. And like the other plants in this water garden, calla lily bulbs can be planted in the ground as well. Bloom production tends to wane over the years, but they will continue to produce the interesting foliage.

How to Spring Clean a Garden Pond

Laguna Garden Pond at Moss Mountain FarmGetting the pond up and running is one of the most rewarding spring tasks that I do because I get immediate results. By the end of the day I can enjoy the sight and sound of cascading crystal clear water. Yep, spring is official once the pond is back in action.

The best time to open a pond or water feature is in early spring when the water temperature is above 50° F (10° C).

Check List for Cleaning a Pond in Spring

  1. Remove debris such as leaves and twigs with a pond net.
  2. Remove half of the water by disconnecting the pond pump so that it drains out of the pond rather than recirculating the water. You can also use a clean out pump for this.
  3. Remove debris and excess sediment from the bottom of the pond. Don’t worry about getting it spotless, you want some organic matter to remain to add to the beneficial bacteria.
  4. Check the pump and remove debris caught in the intake.
  5. If you have a skimmer box, clean the net and rinse the biological media.
  6. Rinse the filter pads. Filter pads usually last two years, but if they tear easily, replace them.
  7. Turn on the hose and let the water run for a few minutes to clear the pipes before refilling the pond.
  8. Add a chlorine eliminator to remove chlorine, chloramine and any harmful metals found in tap water.


Supplies for Cleaning a Pond in Spring

  • Pond Net – Use to remove debris.
  • Clean Out Pump (optional) – If your pond pump won’t work to remove water use a clean out pump.
  • Laguna Pond Vacuum – This tool makes it easy to clean the bottom and sides of your pond. And it’s powered by water not electricity. Neat!
  • Cleaning Brushes – Small brushes are handy for cleaning inside the pump.
  • Vinegar – This is an earth-friendly cleaning solvent for pump parts.
  • Garbage Bags – You are going to dredge up some yucky stuff so you’ll need somewhere to put it. Quickly.
  • Spare Filters – Have a replacement filter on hand in case the existing filter needs changing. You can always save it for later.

Creating a Water Feature

An important feature of a well-designed garden is a focal point. It can be a statue, a willow bench, a colorful flowering tree or an inviting architectural element like a gazebo or a rose or vine arbor. Something with strong visual interest can become the exclamation mark among the flowers and foliage. I like to add a focal point that infuses the garden with personality. Water does that for me.

Water features add an element of tranquility to a garden. The soothing sound of water bubbling instantly adds a relaxing ambiance to my garden. It’s also a place where wildlife will come to take a morning drink where I can watch them from a distance while sipping my coffee.

Here’s an easy way to make your own oasis of calm in the backyard…

  • Measure out the area where you choose to place the pond.
  • In order to calculate the surface area of the pond liner that you should get, add twice the depth of the pond to your length and width measurements. Include an additional 2-foot overlap to the length and width measurements. This extra overlap will eventually be covered with tiles, stones or soil.
  • Dig out the hole to the dimensions that you have calculated.
  • Position any external pond filters and/or pumps and level these where you have easy access to them and can also screen them from view.
  • Smooth out the hole making sure that you remove any sharp stones or chunks of roots from the hole. Run you hand over the entire surface area that the liner will lie on to make certain that there are no sharp objects that will puncture the liner.
  • Next, lay in the liner and smooth it out as much as possible. Begin to slowly fill the pond with water and smooth out the liner if required, as the water level rises.
  • Decide on the type of border that you may like a natural edge made with soil and stacked stones.

Just float in some water lilies and other aquatics, then plant around your edges to finish off your new backyard getaway-from-it-all!

To learn more about water features, check out the video below!

Closing Your Pond for the Winter

When the leaves start falling and the air turns crisp, it’s time to prepare your outdoor water feature for winter. A few steps this fall will save you time and money next spring.

Combating Leaf Fall

Continue to keep the pond free of leaves and plant debris. Loose vegetation left in the pond will break down over the winter causing a spike in harmful ammonia levels. To help with this cover your pond with netting before the leaves start falling and keep the area around the pond raked.

What to Do with the Waterworks

Shut down any above-ground water sources such as fountains or waterfalls for the winter.

Remove the pump from the pond and store it away for winter. You don’t want the pump to run during the winter because the moving water mixes up thermal layers, making the water near the bottom colder (where fish will be). Give the pump a once-over and remove debris and clean the impellor. Internal filters should be removed and cleaned as well. Clean all filter media before storing for the winter so it’s ready to go in the spring.

When To Stop Feeding The Fish

If you have fish in your pond, you can stop feeding them once the water temperature stays below 50° F. At this temperature fish will go into hibernation and stop eating. Set up a good thermometer to monitor the water temperature. I use one with an easy viewing window with large temperature indications for quick readings.

Rather than going cold turkey, wean your fish off food as the temperatures go down. When the water temperature is steadily between 55-60° F, only feed the fish wheat germ-based foods once a day. Reduce feeding to once a week when the water temperatures stay between 50-55° F. If the temperature stays below 50° F, you can stop feeding them until the weather warms in spring. Discard any remaining fish food since the nutrients in any open packages will dissipate over time. If your area experiences a warm spell the fish come to the surface be sure not feed them, they may be coming up for air and any food they eat will not be digested.

Finally, consider installing a floating de-icer to keep your pond surface clear of ice. In colder climate zones an air hole needs to be kept open to allow for a proper oxygen/carbon dioxide gas exchange for fish to survive the winter. If your pond completely freezes, you risk losing your fish.

Preparing Pond Plants For Winter

As cold weather approaches, trim hardy lotus and lilies and then put them in the deepest part of the pond. Other hardy plants such as grasses, cattails, and iris do not need to be trimmed back in temperate zone gardens, but for colder climates just put them at the bottom of the pond for the fish to hunker down in.

You can also remove and/or compost tropical oxygenators and floating plants like water lettuce and water hyacinths. If you have space, you can bring your plants inside. Some of the ones that are a little more fragile in my zone 7 pond I like to put into plastic tubs and overwinter indoors. I make certain that I provide them with light, keep them damp and check on them weekly.

15 Minute DIY Water Garden

This project is so simple you can set it up in 15 minutes or less. All you need to do is place the metal tub where you want it, fill it with water and add plants. Easy-peasy!


  • Galvanized tub at least 12 inches deep (available at hardware stores, flea markets and farm supple co-ops)
  • Water plants
  • Water
  • Submersible pump (optional)

Water Garden Plants

Adding plants to your water feature not only increases the beauty, there are practical purposes too. The plants absorb carbon dioxide and minerals, which helps keep algae in check. They also deter mosquitos by covering the water surface.

Galvanzied tub water garden

Many water plants are considered invasive, so always do some research making a selection. This garden is contained so there isn’t the same risk as with a large in-ground pond, but it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution.

Louisiana Iris (Iris fulva, Iris hexagona, Iris brevicaulis, Iris giganticaerulea, and Iris nelsonii): These iris will add a nice vertical element to your water garden plus colorful blooms. Plant the rhizomes in a pot and sink the pot about 2 inches under the water.

Yellow Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata): With heart-shaped leaves no larger than four inches, this aquatic perennial produces a brilliant yellow bloom. Blooms usually last no more than one day, but it’s worth the tranquil beauty and effect it brings to the water garden. Also known as water fringe.

Graceful Grasses® Baby Tut® Umbrella Grass (Cyperus involucratus): This elegant, rich green water garden grass can reach up to 24 inches. Use it to soften edges and contrast fleshy-leaf floating plants.

Adding Movement

It’s easy to create ripples in your water garden with an electric or solar water pump. A small $10 to $20 pump is all you need. In addition to the soothing sound, moving water will prevent mosquitos from laying eggs in your water garden.